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DAM- Color of Modernity: Red in Meiji Japanese Prints

  • Denver Art Musem 100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy Denver, CO 80204 (map)

The Denver Art Museum’s Asian Art Association presents:

Stephanie Su: Color of Modernity: Red in Meiji Japanese Prints

Wednesday, February 6, 12:00-1:00PM
Denver Art Museum
Sharp Auditorium, Hamilton Building

Free for AAA members and students with valid ID, $10 DAM volunteers, $15 DAM members, $20 Non-members
RSVP forthcoming (through the DAM website)


In the late nineteenth century, red was used extensively in Japanese prints, earning it the appellation “color of the age.” The sensational visual effects, featuring bright, saturated colors, marked a strikingly different aesthetic from earlier prints. Those prints were often described as “decadent” and associated with the West due to the use of imported synthetic dyes from Europe. Such perspectives, however, suggest a simplistic dichotomy between the plant-based colorants and synthetic dyes. As recent scientific analysis reveals, the sources of colorants were diverse. Printers constantly experimented and mixed different colorants to achieve desired visual effects. The use of colors signifies a more complex picture of the cultural, social and political transformation in Japan. Combining interdisciplinary approaches to art history, material culture and conservation science, this talk explores Meiji visual culture through the lens of colors, its relationship with color discourse, scientific development, and the process of modernization.

Stephanie Su is the Assistant Professor of Asian Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include the Sino-Japanese relationship, global modernism, histories of collecting and display, and the materiality of colors. She publishes on both Chinese and Japanese art. Her latest article, “In Pursuit of Colors: Paintings, Prints and Textile Designs in Late Nineteenth Century Japan,” will appear in the forthcoming exhibition catalogue Color Revolution: Fashion and the Floating World (Worcester Art Museum, 2020). Her research has been supported by such organizations as the Japan Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cultures of Conservation.